From our June 2020 Letters Section, From Simon Hadfield

HOME » Magazine » » » From our June 2020 Letters Section, From Simon Hadfield

Dear Carol,

Strange days these, I trust all is well with you.  Just to pick up on an article in the May HMRN about lap times, your correspondent interestingly takes my time from the last time I raced a T70 at Goodwood to make his comparison.  The point is that I was asked (effectively told) not to go faster than 1’20”.   I’m actually quite proud of my 1’19.955 done without a lap timer!  Your correspondent should really have compared Nick Padmore’s very much faster time, also set in a T70 that so “rang the bells” at the MSA.

More interesting still are the lap times set at the TT in 1959.  Stirling was on pole at 1’32 and change in the Aston, Brooks second on 1’33 and a bit in the Testa Rossa and third was Graham Hill in the works Lotus 15 in the 1’34s.  Last time I looked the fastest Lotus 15s are now doing 1’25s……. and are not being driven by Graham Hill!

As they say, you can prove anything with statistics.

I think your correspondent’s conclusions are way off.  The arms race in historic racing has seen times tumble and most organisers pay only lip service to try to control things.  Compare and contrast to modern racing with clear, uncomplicated and properly controlled regulations.  Jan Magnussen set a time in his Van Diemen RF92 Formula Ford 1600 at Mallory Park – a circuit that like Goodwood has not changed in topography at all – in 1992 that has not been bettered to this day, even with all the development and technology and tyres that have followed since then.  That right there is testament to all the nonsense that passes for control in historic motorsport.

Personally I just find it terribly sad that cars are being “enhanced” to a bizarre degree.  When a competitor can turn his dash on from his mobile phone, how do the many opt-outs from modern regulations that historic motorsport enjoys still have relevance?  When you see an onboard video of a car that clearly has no wheelspin, again how is this part of historic racing?   Or when people turn up and race with a car that could not have existed in the period in which it is entered?  If an athlete takes steroids the penalties are draconian, as they should be.  There is a deterrent factor.

I fully understand that the kind of person who in the sixties and seventies might have organised a car to race at the real Le Mans or Targa Florio is now effectively forced into historic racing, but it should be understood what the parameters are.  Simply, attitudes have changed, and it certainly appears in some cases that the deal is to fit as much modern tech as that particular event or the entrant’s stature allows.

To compare and contrast, James, my son, has prepared a modern Van Diemen Formula Ford for his own motorsport fix.  Effectively he has a completely contemporary car.  We pole up to a Northern FF round at Oulton Park and the attitude and buzz in the paddock is like it was twenty-five years ago in historics.  It’s fun, welcoming, vibrant and brings a huge sense of pride in the racing.  We bring people to events like the Walter Hayes Formula Ford races at Silverstone and they are bowled over by the sense of occasion and the esprit de corps.  It’s not often the case in historic racing today.  Sadly.

Still, hopefully we can return to all this fun soon enough.

Cheers, Simon Hadfield

Do you want to be part of the conversation?  Subscribe to historic Motor Racing News

These stories are all from the pages of Historic Motor Racing News.  Some have been abbreviated for this web site.  If you'd like to receive the full version, please visit our subscription page where you will find postal subscriptions available.  A full subscription also entitles you to access the current issue online (available soon), so you can take it with you and read it anywhere, and we are working on providing full access to our archives of back issues exclusively for our subscribers.